Wave energy communication and social opposition

Can we improve perception of ocean energy development projects?


  • Maria C. Uyarra AZTI
  • Iratxe Menchaca
  • Sarai Pouso
  • Laura Zubiate
  • Dorleta Marina
  • Enored le Bourhis
  • Thomas Soulard
  • Sandrine Jamet
  • Niall Dunphy
  • Janete Gonçalves
  • Erica Cruz
  • Juan Bald




Social, perception, cummunication, social media, wave energy


Despite the benefits of marine renewable energies (MRE) to the decarbonisation, public opposition has often been posed to MRE projects. This opposition is one of the reasons slowing down Europe´s energy transition towards clean energies. Aside from one wave energy production farm operating in Europe, other developments are still at pilot or prototype phases. In the context of European SAFEWAVE project (https://www.safewave-project.eu/), we aim to understand the causes that trigger opposition to wave energy projects and identify how communication could improve the perception and attitudes towards MRE projects. To achieve this aim, a systematic analysis of ongoing wave energy projects, scientific bibliography and social media has been carried out.  Outputs of this research indicate that opposition to wave energy is rather limited and primarily posed by national and local communities, as well as NGOs. Opposition emerges after envisaging negative affection on i) economy (e.g., conflict with existing uses), ii) social aspects (e.g., local communities for which the benefits are unclear), and iii) the environment (e.g., uncertainty on environmental impacts). Despite much of the wave energy information available on the media is produced and communicated by scientists and engineers (which should be considered a reliable sources of information), most of the communicated content focus on the drivers, the technological developments and benefits. Limited information on potential impacts of wave energy projects is shared. The target audiences vary between channels; YouTube, Facebook and Google have a wider audience than Twitter, which seeks a more professional audience. A holistic communication approach, in which both expected benefits and impacts are communicated may reduce opposition and help society to become more marine energy-literate, allowing for informed decisions and responsible behaviours/attitudes. Availability of official documents, participatory approaches, and transparency are crucial for improving the perception of future wave energy projects.



How to Cite

M. C. Uyarra, “Wave energy communication and social opposition: Can we improve perception of ocean energy development projects?”, Proc. EWTEC, vol. 15, Sep. 2023.



Economical, social, legal and political aspects of ocean energy


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